Introduction

» It's life and life only,
you call kill a man,
but you can't kill an idea! «

( Lafayette, November 6, 1981 )

Bob Dylan's " Highway 81 " is dotted with 54 concerts, that will go down to history one day again. As has often been the case in the past, Dylan outdid himself once again. For me personally, this was the best Dylan ever to stand on stage. If I regret anything, it's just myself, because of the fact that I managed to experience no more than three concerts.

The purpose of this introduction is not and cannot be to discuss every performance. On the contrary, I would rather point out a few exceptional matters, the extraordinary and unusual. To be complete would involve detailed analysis, and ultimatelely there would still be too much left out. This manual is intended to be primarily a resource work for tape collectors and maybe a small contribution to Dylanology.

Some songs get a new pair of shoes, and some are even fitted for a new shirt. Thus, » Maggie's Farm « becomes a rapid " fire-song ". » Ballad Of A Thin Man « begins very slowly with a sweeping gesture before it forcefully drives » Mr. Jones « into a corner.

For the dreamy love ballad addressed to the » Girl Of The North Country « Dylan reaches for his acoustic guitar and receives a strong back-up from Willie Smith, an excellent keyboard man. » Forever Young « this time gets a standard harmonica accompaniment. » When You Gonna Wake Up « begins imploringly and soon works it's crushing effect on those of little faith.

» In The Garden « now and then takes on such strong melodramatic traits that it borders on desperation and madness. The encore starts with a stanza from » Blowin' In The Wind « tepidly sung by the backgroundsingers. Dylan enters in the second verse and brings his anthem to a powerful climax. At the very end, Bobby stands all by himself on stage with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica, a legend millions love.

A few songs are occasionally introduced for the sake of variety. » Fever « and » Rise Again « appear but once in the second Clarkston concert, other items performed only once include the following:

I Don't Believe You
(second concert London)

Here Comes The Sun
(opening lines only, last concert London)

City Of Gold
(second concert Birmingham, instead of
» Blowin' In The Wind «)

She Belongs To Me
(acoustic guitar, as opening of the Stockholm concert)

Just A Little Bit
(second concert Milwaukee)

Are You Ready?
(as encore in Kitchener)

When He Returns
(first concert Cincinnati)

There's A Thief On The Cross
(first concert New Orleans)

Every Grain Of Sand
(Lakeland concert, I am sure all of us wish that this
song would have appeared more often.)

Beginning in Toulouse, Dylan included another favorite of his fans in program, » Mr. Tambourine Man « , played on acoustic guitar, but with band back-up. » Knockin' On Heaven's Door « is still on the main program here, but at the second London concert it became the standard finale, with two exceptions. In Colombes, a district of north-west Paris, there are crowd disturbances involving police during » I Believe In You « . This catches Dylan's attention, and his song of confession sounds downright defiant in connection with these distrubances. As the song ends, he mixes up the lyrices » ... and what I don't mind the pain ... « . There's a magic moment when he sings a duett with Clydie King on » Let It Be Me « , his fingers enticing mellow tones from the piano. The song appears similary performed only two other times, in Toronto and Montreal.

Of the six concerts at Earls Court in London, the first was the most impassioned. One trait of this tour was that Bob took the weight of the road on his shoulders as his own cross to bear. He has learned to be humble for the sake of whom he now serves with growing energy. » Barbara Allen « appears in two British concerts, both electric versions. While introducing the band at the last London concert, a beer can bounces off Bob's mike, but Bobby reacts in a cool and even Christian manner. In the solo encore, he then presents an almost incomparable » It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleedin' « . Could that be his response to the tossed beer can? Be it as it may, for the first time he performs » Heart Of Mine « here, the hit single from » SHOT OF LOVE « . Dylan does the song at the piano, the way he did it at the rest of the European concerts. At the opening concert in Birmingham, he uses » Saved « for the first time to start the concert, instead of » Gotta Serve Somebody « .

In Stockholm, after the opening gospel numbers, Dylan presents two solo songs. After » Like A Rolling Stone « , someone calls for » Lay, Lady, Lay « and Dylan spontaneously answers, » Lie Lie Dee Lie, if you sing it, we'll play it « . The second solo number at Stockholm, after » She Belongs To Me « is » The Times They Are A-Changin' « , the entreating anthem that should henceforth be represented in every concert. He sings it with acoustic guitar, albeit with back-up. It is with few exceptions the standard number after » Walk Around Heaven All Day « , sung by Carolyn Dennis as opening number of the second half of the concert. In Drammen, a place near Oslo but not one of its suburbs, Bob sings » Jesus He's The One « for the first time, the song composed somehow on the road. The Copenhagen concert begins with a solo performance by Dylan again, this time an acoustic » Blowin' In The Wind « . As the song crescendos at the end, the band comes in. » Gotta Serve Somebody « gets a major change in lyrics for the first and last time ( in the second verse):

» You may be Winston Churchill braggin' on the side,
You may be A-dolf Hitler stickin' for a ride... «

At the concert in St. Goarshausen " Loreley " open-air theatre, Dylan introduces the back-up singer, Carolyn Dennis, by saying: » She's a great singer in the Endtime « . It is all too easy to miss these statements. At the second concert in Munich, Bob gives the up-and-coming, sixteen-years-old singer Janine Smith, the chance to perform in the show. She sings a charming » You Light Up My Life « . Also worth mentioning is the cup of Coke in Dylan's right hand during the first verse of » Ballad Of A Thin Man « at the Vienna concert.

Finally, in Basel the " professor " gives his " pupils " a hard nut to crack. It takes a while to figure it all out. Between » Mr. Tambourine Man « and » Solid Rock « there is an unexpected instrumental. The solution to the mysterious number can perhaps be found in what he says while introducing the band: » I want to say hello to Briget Bardot! « This does not have to mean anything special, for Dylan's band introductions have often contained tongue-in-check allusions not to be taken seriously. Those who know his penchant for Charlie Chaplin are quick to perceive this. But to get back to the instrumental number in question, the fact is that Briget Bardot was staying at a hotel in Basel at the time of the concert. It is quite possible that she attended the concert and that the instrumental was a melody from one of her movies.

In Avignon, at the last concert of the European tour, there was a troubling climax: a 17 years old italian girl died while a 33 years old dutch man got badly hurted, to them I dedicate this book, and also this website. » Saved « begins, but after a couple measures. It is followed by an instrumental by Bob and the band lasting about fifteen minutes. The show then begins again with » Saved « .

After an almost three-month break, Dylan started the tour up in America again. The gospel section is reduced to a one-song interlude. After the usual opeing, » I Want You « follows. When I heard this version for the first time, it made me think immediately of the " Truck-Driver" in » Renaldo & Clara « . In place of the gospel interlude at the first two shows in Milwaukee, the old Bette Midler hit » The Rose « is used. In Merrilville it is substituted with » Gamblin' Man « , and before playing it Bob asks the audience if there are some gamblers amongst them. Some of the songs get new treatments as compared to the European arrangements. The most drastic change is noticeable in » Solid Rock « . New to the program are » I'll Be Your Baby Tonight « and » A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall « (acoustic with back-up). » It's All In The Game « is sung as a duett and usually substitutes for » Let's Begin « . » Senor « again takes place on Lincoln Country Road.

Both concerts in Merrilville and Boston conclude with the old Chuck Berry song » No Money Down « , not » Knockin' On Heaven's Door « . Larry Kegan comes on stage in his wheelchair to sing this number, and Dylan makes a debut on an instrument he has never before played at a live concert -- the saxophone. At the Bethlehem concert, there is a joint birthday greeting to Howard Alk and Dylan. The opening note of this short introduction comes from the concert in Lafayette, it serves to put his critics in their proper place after » It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleedin' « . At the opening concert in New Orleans a song never heard before emerges, » There's A Thief On The Cross « . Two concerts are announced in French by an official speaker, one in Houston and the other in Lakeland. Beginning in Houston and included up to the second concert in Sunrise, » The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll « replaces » I Want You « in program.

Something unusual emerges towards the end of the tour, a harmonica section in » Simple Twist Of Fate « ( heard in Houston and Nashville ), in » Girl Of The North Country « ( both Atlanta shows and second Sunrise concert ). Last but not least, the harmonica is employed at the final stop in Lakeland, this time in » I Believe In You « but ( as exception would have it ) not in » Forever Young «. In Lakeland, Dylan does » Every Grain Of Sand « without harmonica. He concludes the show with six encores, three of them solos. And thus came the tour to an end.

Had someone asked me at the end of 1979 if Dylan would ever sing » Like A Rolling Stone « again, I would have almost sworn no. That he does so again now demonstrates the degree of love that he feels for us. I only hope that he himself might someday receive this same love.

God protect you Bob !